The Jurassic Park series has been through a fair bit of roughness in it's lifespan. A stellar first movie, followed by few sequels that didn't fare as well, peppered along the way by the usual retinue of cash-in arcade and Super Nintendo/Genesis games. The first stands as the clear favorite of many and it is in this movie that Telltale Games, makers of plenty of stellar point-and-click adventures for the PC, have set this side-story revolving around, of all things, the can of shaving cream.
Oh yes. A can of shaving cream is the key to the entire game. Never thought you'd see the day, eh?
Seeing as how this was formatted for primarily the PC with ports going to the 360 and PS3, the graphics are somewhat dependent on your particular system. On my older tower, the graphics ran smoothly on medium settings and looked rather good. The characters all had expressive faces (something Telltale has been steadily working and improving upon with each use of their particular engine) and moved like the mocap had been extensive.
There was one rather jarring jaggy glitch later on near the end of the game, but seeing as how it only happened at that one particular time, I'm fairly certain it was my tower and not the game at fault. It all looks nice and fits right in with the current generation of graphical design. As stated, the characters all popped out and had unique and varied looks. Older characters had wrinkles, younger ones were fresh-faced and smooth. At one point, you even realize you can see the freckles on the face of the mercenary Yoder and that's pretty good, all things considered.
The soundtrack here has been ripped screaming from the movies, John Williams be damned ((or paid off, whichever)). What parts that weren't his composition were filled in and some new stuff fits into the overall theme. It does tend to get a little repetitive as the game goes on, but it's not really a big issue overall.
Voice-acting is decent, but I'm fairly surprised at the choices that were available and made their showing here. In no particular order, Max Goof, Asajj Ventress, ORTIZ from Speed, and a man who has done mostly additional voices for pretty much every big name game this year were the primary characters. Yoder (Max Goof) was recognizable and a quick search to the IMDB confirmed the others. Most of these people have not had big name roles in a long while, but they do pull a pretty good job with the source material.
As a side note, the sound effects can be summed up in one sentence: yes, they have the same sound effect for the T. Rex's roaring, the Velociraptors, and the Dilophosauruses. Not much really to comment on otherwise aside from noting that both the background music and sfx tended to drop in and out at their discretion on loading into the next segment. Simple cross-fading or even just fading out at all would've been a nice plus.
Controls for the game (on PC anyhow) are down to either using the WASD configuration with your mouse or ((what is clearly the better choice)) using an X360 gamepad. Even so, it's nothing really difficult to learn and picking up the control scheme is as simple as this: keep your eyes open and watch for the prompts.
Annnd that's it, really.
For anyone who has seen Dragon's Lair or played it, you'll understand how this game works on a rudimentary level. Heavy Rain, a PS3 title some years back, took it to this level and JP:TG is very clearly modeled after it. You follow command prompts on the screen, either pressing a button at the appointed time when prompted, mashing it to fill a meter, or moving the stick in an indicated direction. Combinations of those three are pretty much the entirety of the action sequences. Unfortunately, it can lead to choppiness in gameplay with faster button presses skipping a second or two of action so the game proceeds ((and it can get REALLY jarring at times)).
The action is broken up by puzzle-solving/investigative segments that use the buttons to look around and see what's what, get a bit of information, or just explore some back-story. Aside, it is very reminiscent of the "Push Button NOW" gameplay style of games instead of just being one long quick-time event as some have called it. Gameplay through all four stories lasts about 7-9 hours depending on personal skill level ((or amounts of fail in some cases)) and there's not a lot to go back for after you've beaten the game. It's a nice touch to 'grade' your efforts by a meter that declines as you flub up. Getting all gold medals might be worth it, but I've not found any information about what you receive for your efforts should you make the push for that particular title. Achievements are all well and good, but not for replayability when the game itself is rather short.
It's difficult to hate this game. It's got a lot going for it and it puts in a good showing. The story's rather...strange at times and some of the characters motivations change at the drop of a hat, but it all fits in where it's supposed to as a side-story to the first Jurassic Park movie. You get a bit more insight into just how fucked up the idea of a theme park filled with uncontrollable dinosaurs really is and just how messed up the people running it would have to be if they were able to justify it to a board of directors. Even so, a long moral sequence involves the concept of leaving the dinosaurs alone versus nuking them off the face of the planet so we don't screw over our own ecosystem and it's here that somehow, someway, Telltale managed to capture the spirit of a rabid PETA supporter in one of it's main characters. Creepiness doesn't even cover it.
Even so, this game isn't worth the $40 I 'spent' on it. I use those quotes as I pre-ordered it back in February of last year and was basically given it late and free-of-charge since they held the game back. I wonder what caused the rollback since the finished game was...well...average. Yes it all looks pretty and it's got good acting and a unique gamestyle, but it's nothing that hasn't been done before and it's biggest failing is that it's all very SHORT. In and out in one night doesn't make for lasting impressions and cannot justify spending more than $20 for a game to me. And honestly, you really shouldn't either. Developers need to be shown that giving short games like this to their customers with high price tags just won't fly in today's market.
So what's the verdict? Personal discretion advised if you really WANT to play the game, but I'd say that since there's no real way to Rent it, then you would probably be best served watching this game on YouTube. It's just as intense whether or not you're behind the helm and it all ends the same anyhow. Watch it there with a tub of popcorn and enjoy the back story, but don't spend the money to play it.
It's a real shame too. Telltale usually puts out better efforts than this and it doesn't rank as high on the list as some of their other efforts (Sam & Max, Back To The Future to name a few). Even the Strong Bad games were, ironically, stronger than this one is for it's time. It smacks of just pushing the mostly-finished product out the door so faith can be restored in what they're doing, even if that's not the case. We as gamers should ask for better and products that give us the balance between our cost in and our reward out in gameplay. Jurassic Park, in the end, fails to deliver that, but it's not all one big pile of shit. It's just not worth the price tag is all. Sad, but that's the way it is.
Until Next Time
((Also, seeeee? I CAN do one of these without surpassing 10K characters written!))